Dorset Walk: Durdle Door

Durdle DoorThe countryside on the Dorset coast is beautiful in a very British sense: the sea winds that whip in from the open water give the landscape a lived-in, well-worn look. It is green and bright, but pleasingly un-manicured. It feels timeless. Hungry for a long glimpse at this most-special of counties, we headed from London to Lulworth without a soul for company, in a bid for a little peace, a little quiet, and a little slow-paced graze towards the famous sight of Durdle Door, a natural wonder of the Jurassic Coast.

We start out on a broad paved footpath that skirts its way around Lulworth Cove and past St Oswald's Bay, and bring us our first sight, from the rear, of the famous limestone arch we've travelled to see. Approaching from the east, the cove of Durdle Door is almost enclosed from the sea by a line of rocks. A flight of steps leads down to the sea here, but we've been advised to carry on walking on the coast path until the natural stone arch of the Door itself is revealed in a second cove below.

A craggy structure jutting out to sea, it looms into view and on first glance, Durdle Door has a sculptural quality. The arch, formed by thousands upon thousands of years of lapping and crashing seas, is almost too-perfect. For a second or two, it's easy to convince yourself that the arch has been conceived and crafted, honed and shaped and placed here by hand. But knowing that is most definitely not the case - that this is in fact a happy accident of nature - quickly restores the magic. We stop and stare for a little while, head empty of stress and worry. It's tremendously relaxing.

Rejoining the coastal path, we start to walk onwards until the grassy mass of Swyre Head comes into view. We take a steep path that ascends straight up the hill, the wind swirling around us which, by a pleasant coincidence, seems to be blowing the lingering clouds away. The sun pokes out and suddenly the coast is bathed in sunshine. We stop to rest our legs, sitting on the grass and kicking off our shoes. The view stretches west past the Isle of Portland to Dartmoor, and east to the Isle of Wight. After a short break we descend and amble back to Durdle Door.

This time, we do drop down the steps to sea level, to get a little closer to this famous structure. The sea sighs in and out, birds circle overhead, and we haven't even thought about checking our emails or what the traffic might do on the journey back to London. And that, as much as the view itself, is a glowing endorsement of the scenery around Durdle Door. Next time you need to de-digitise, de-stress, de-everything, set a course for this patch of Dorset.